Election commission announces poll dates for 5 states; Goa, Punjab elections on February 4

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nasim-zaidiChief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi on Wednesday announced the dates for the Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa elections.

The Goa and Punjab elections will be held on February 4, while the Uttarakhand polls will be held on February 15. Manipur will go to the polls in Phase 1 on March 4. The 2nd Phase of polls will be held on March 8.

Phase 1 of Uttar Pradesh elections will be held on February 11.

All states will go to elections simultaneously, he said.

He said that over 16 crore people will vote in the 5 states. 690 seats are at stake, with 23 reserved for SC/ST candidates. 1.85 lakh polling stations have been prepared for the election process.

Electoral roll of Goa will be published on January 5, Manipur on January 12, Punjab January 5, Uttarakhand on January 10 and Uttar Pradesh on January 12, Zaidi added.

The EC has imposed Model Code of Conduct in the states due for elections with immediate effect, the CEC said.

Zaidi said that height of voting compartments has been increased to 30 feet for ensuring secrecy. He added that in order to promote women’s empowerment, some polling booths will be manned entirely by women.

Every polling station will have 4 posters for voting procedure and dos and don’ts written on them.

“The limit for expenses for candidates is Rs 28 lakh for UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Rs 20 lakh for Manipur and Goa,” Zaidi said.

EC earlier on Wednesday held a meeting with Chief Electoral Officers of poll-bound state to fine-tune the arrangements.

The law and order situation in Manipur due to road blockade by some Naga groups was the focus of attention of the Election Commission, sources said.

At the meeting, the assessment of the law and order situation, deployment of polling personnel, safety and electronic voting machines and strict implementation of the model code of conduct also came up for discussion.

In its report to the Election Commission, the Union Home Ministry has conveyed the ground situation in Manipur following the blockade of National Highway 2 by United Naga Council, and the state government’s alleged “failure” to resume normal traffic even after 60 days.

“In the report, the Home Ministry told the EC about the ongoing tension and grave situation prevailing in Manipur. The EC may independently make an assessment of the situation so that election can be conducted properly,” a top Home Ministry official told news agency PTI.

Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry will provide around 85,000 security personnel for deployment in the upcoming assembly elections in the five states.

At a high-level meeting with the Election Commission, top officials of the Ministry led by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi conveyed that it would provide around 750 companies of paramilitary forces for smooth conduct of the election process in the five states.

In addition, around 100 companies, most of which belong to State Armed Police Forces and India Reserve Battalions, will also be drawn from different states for deployment of election duties.

A company of paramilitary force comprises of around 100 personnel.

As of now, the Commission plans to hold seven-phased assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and single-phased in the other states. But with situation in Manipur assuming alarming proportions, the poll body may go for multiple phases in the north-eastern state. But there is no official word on it.